5. Todd Haley
I know, I know, you’re ready to stop reading right now. How in the world could I put Todd Haley on a list of best coaches in Kansas City Chiefs history? He had a losing record. He never won a playoff game. He dressed like a bum and screamed at people like a crazy person. He was reportedly paranoid about his own general manager spying on him. What in the world am I thinking?
Well, before I get to the very short case for why Todd Haley deserves this spot, let’s look at his competition.
Right off the bat we can eliminate Paul Wiggin, Tom Bettis, Frank Gansz, and Romeo Crennel. Those four had a combined record of 24-67-1 in Kansas City with no division titles or playoff appearances. So cross them off the list.
Marv Levy is the best NFL coach of the remaining options, but the Hall of Fame coach built his resume in Buffalo, not Kansas City. His 31 wins in Kansas City are 5th best in team history, but his winning percentage of .425 is just 7th best and he never won the AFC West or even made the playoffs in Kansas City. Levy was a great coach, but he simply doesn’t have a strong enough case to earn the number five spot as a Chiefs coach.
Herm Edwards did make the playoffs as a 9-7 wild card team in his first season (they lost in the wild card round), but he followed that up with two awful seasons and his .313 winning percentage in KC is 10th out of 13 total head coaches in team history. I think we can cross Herm off the list.
Gunther Cunningham is the only coach in contention for this fifth spot that doesn’t have a losing record in Kansas City. His 16-16 record in two seasons might be enough for some to argue he belongs in the fifth spot, and I considered it, but ultimately I couldn’t pick a coach that never even made the playoffs over one that did.
John Mackovic is the other coach that you can argue for the fifth spot on this list. He was 30-34 in four seasons in Kansas City with one playoff appearance (which they lost), but no division titles. Mackovic was given over a full season more time than Haley, but his winning percentage is just .047 higher. I don’t feel like that slightly better winning percentage outweighs a division title.
So that brings us back to Haley. Yes, Haley was just just 19-26 in a little under three seasons in K.C., but he’s the only coach in contention for the fifth spot that won a division title and he did it with Matt Cassel as his quarterback. In my opinion, that is far and away the best achievement of any of these other failed coaches. While his temperament might have worn thin in K.C., I think he does deserve credit for getting that team to a division title.
Let’s not forget that Derrick Johnson was an incredibly talented but inconsistent player before Haley benched him for much of the 2009 season. From that point on, he was one of K.C.’s best linebackers ever. He might have been kind of a crazy jerk, but he did occasionally push the right buttons and I believe he got the most out of that 2010 team.
If you want to make an argument for Mackovic, Cunningham, or maybe even Levy as the fifth best Chiefs coach, I’d listen to the argument, but in the end, I think Haley’s AFC West title is the best achievement of any of them regardless of what you thought of his volatile personality.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the coaches we can all agree deserve to be on this list.